Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love how it flies under the radar and then, before you know it, it’s time to get a little too buzzed, eat ourselves into oblivion, loosen our belts and make inappropriate comments to our loved ones.
We Americans tend to go overboard on everything. Christmas, college basketball, campaign advertising, the Bigness of our Gulps and the right to bear arms are out of control … but we haven’t gone overboard on Thanksgiving. There is no two-month buildup, no tacky music, no rooftop decorations, no pressure to shop, no forced allegiance to a religion, no overwrought patriotism. Anyone can participate. All you have to do is be thankful and willing to overeat. (Strictly speaking, those are both optional.)
It’s pretty much the same kind of day it was when I was a child: turkey, football and side bets on which uncle will say something you’ll need to tell your therapist later. Then somebody comes out of the closet, everybody eats pie and then it’s time for an l-tryptophan-induced winter’s nap.
Thanksgiving even has the good sense to fall on a Thursday, which, if you take off work Wednesday and Friday, makes for a nice, five-day stupor. And there is so much to overeat and be drunkenly thankful for.
I am especially thankful for my beautiful wife and children. Not only do they keep me in stitches, but they also have all chosen careers in which they directly help other people, which is something I highly value. In other people. Personally, I have spent an inordinate amount of my career trying to get “poop” and its numerous synonyms published in prestigious periodicals, so I appreciate that some people make a stronger effort on behalf of humanity.
I am also thankful for our great technological advancements. Consider the magic contraption we call the “phone.” With this one tiny gadget it’s not only possible but astonishingly easy to drop a computer, camera, camcorder, clock, newspaper, magazine, scanner, weather station, radio, TV, library, word processor, answering machine, audio recorder, calculator, calendar, atlas, spycam, personal memory and perhaps even consciousness itself into the toilet.
And once you retrieve it and dry it out, you can tap on it and order a table at a fine dining establishment or summon a driver as if you were Bertram Wilberforce “Bertie” Wooster or Richard Andrew “Rick” Pitino. Even better, you can use your phone to pretend you’re doing something of critical importance in order to avoid somebody you don’t want to talk to when really you’re just looking at food porn on Instagram.
So there’s a lot to be thankful for. Thanksgiving reaches all of us because if we try hard enough, we can all find something or someone to appreciate, no matter how dire our circumstance or unsightly our goiter. If you are having a rough time this year, consider those unfortunate people who are suffering from addiction, disease, warfare or a 15 percent shellacking at the polls. And if you are one of those people, consider this: There’s probably somebody somewhere who’s suffering from all four.
When it comes to politics, conservatives and liberals alike can be thankful this year. Conservatives have succeeded in giving our wealthiest citizens all the money and our corporations all the power and also putting 3.7 guns into the holsters of every American, no matter how mentally ill. Liberals, meanwhile, can high-five each other for last week’s Vox.com Venn diagram titled, “States where you can get high at a same-sex wedding, in one chart.” (For those of you keeping score at home, there are 22.) So everybody has something to celebrate.
Of course, it can be a dicey situation when families come together and consume large quantities of mind-altering substances. So here is my tip for a happy Thanksgiving: Know your audience. Read the body language. If your cousin’s eyes are closed and drool is coming out of her mouth during your story about your son’s science-project volcano, it is probably because she is asleep. If your dad’s face is red and steam is coming out his ears during your story about your penis tattoo, he probably does not want to hear more. When you feel the impulse to say something mean, say something nice instead. And if the police are reading you your rights, it’s time to call a lawyer. Happy Thanksgiving!